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Cheltenham 2019: Presenting Percy is to prove doubters wrong in Cheltenham Gold Cup

Cheltenham 2019: Presenting Percy is to prove doubters wrong in Cheltenham Gold Cup

“I’m a politician’s son, so I can spoof all day long!” he said. “Also, I’m a punter myself, so I know people’s frustrations.

“People use the word genius loosely, but Pat Kelly is an absolute genius when it comes to training horses.

“I’ve had horses with many different trainers and what he does is very different to what they do.

“Whether that’s part of the reason why he’s as shy as he is – maybe he feels he’s best keep that to himself – but I understand people’s frustrations.”

Reynolds avoided politics and chose instead to make his fortune when buying into the family pet food business which he recently cashed in.

He met Kelly, below, through his sister’s boyfriend, the Grand National-winning jockey Jason Titley, successful with Royal Athlete in 1995.

But Titley fell off the Reynolds-owned and Kelly-trained Sovereign Parade, who had been backed from 16-1 to 7-2, when looking to have a race at his mercy at Galway in the 90s.

Following a dismal spell in the early 2000s when he sent out just 15 winners in 10 years – Kelly was on the verge of handing in his licence.

Salvation arrived when he met Reynolds at Mallow races. Reynolds explained: “I said to Pat, we should buy a horse for old time’s sake, and he said yeah, I’ll ring you – it took two years before he did!”

The wait was worth it. The horse he bought was Mall Dini, who went on to win the 2016 Pertemps Hurdle at the 2016 Festival.

Presenting Percy will be attempting a third success at the Festival as he also banked the Pertemps Hurdle in 2017.

But despite these achievements, former trainer Henrietta Knight, successful three times in the Gold Cup with Best Mate, said: “I can’t see how a horse can win a Gold Cup without having run in a chase that season – especially one stepping out of novice company.”

Only Easter Hero, winner of the 1929 Gold Cup, succeeded when not having had an outing over fences in that season.

Regarding Presenting Percy’s solitary outing this season, Reynolds counters that it has not been from choice. “We’ve waited all year to run him,” he said. “But as everyone knows, we’ve not had the rain and consequently the ground has not been suitable.

“I don’t know how many more opportunities Pat is going to have with a horse going to the Gold Cup – I certainly doubt I’ll have many more – and we just decided to be ultra-careful as you only get one shot at these races.”

Reynolds paints a picture of Ireland that has not embraced the 20th century when he describes where Kelly operates at Craughwell in Co Galway.

“He has a barn with lots of holes in the roof and about 20 loose boxes and that’s it.” As for further Festival celebrations Reynolds adds: “We go there with a favourite’s chance of winning, you’re carrying more than your own expectations.

“This horse gives everything, he’s got everything and puts it on the line, people admire him for that.”

Reynolds’ love affair with the sport was ignited by his father.

“Racing was my father’s outlet,” he said. “I started going to Cheltenham with him 35 years ago. One of the regrets for me is that he wasn’t around to see the success that we have had.”

Reynolds recalls the first time he saw Presenting Percy when Pat remarked, “just watch him walk, loose as a goose. A real special horse.

“He will have to be special enough to win a Gold Cup, I don’t know if he is, but we’ll be there to find out.”

Fact file

1:30 Triumph Hurdle 2m 1f

● 19 of the last 25 winners won last time out

● French-br have filled 9 of the last 12 places

● 10 of the last 13 winners returned 13-2 or shorter

● 6 of the last 10 winners had run in France before

● Nicky Henderson has won the race 6 times

2.10 Randox Health County H’cap Hurdle 2m 1f

● The Irish have won 8 of the last 12 runnings

● 7 of the last 11 winners returned 20-1 or more

● 10 of the last 13 winners were 5- or 6-year-olds

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 3m

● 11 of the last 13 winners were either 6- or 7-year-olds

● 12 of the last 13 winners finished in the top 3 last time

3:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup 3m 21/2f

● 15 of the last 19 winners ran in the Lexus or King George that season

● 16 of the last 18 finished 1st or 2nd last time out

● 16 of the last 18 winners top 3 in the betting

● 10 of the last 13 winners won last time out

● All of the last 19 winners were 9-year-olds or younger

● No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969

● 10 of the last 11 winners ran 3 times or less that season

● 16 of the last 22 winners were bred in Ireland

● Willie Mullins is yet to win the race, 0 from 26 (finished second four years running)

● Just one of the last 11 winners had raced more than 3 times that season

4.10 St.James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup 3m 21/2f

● 25 of the last 28 winners were aged under 11 years-old

● 26 of the last 30 started out in point-to-point races